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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, USA

  • Exhibited

    Robert Frank: London/ Wales, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 10 May - 14 July 2003

  • Literature

    P. Brookman, Robert Frank: London/ Wales, Washington: Corcoran Gallery of Art; Zurich: Scalo, 2003, p. 95
    Robert Frank: Story Lines, London: Tate, 2004, p. 75

  • Catalogue Essay


    The photo essay on Ben James, which first appeared in U.S. Camera Annual in 1955, was shot over a number of weeks, during which Frank closely followed the miner and his family. Frank bypassed the common photojournalistic traps, namely, full-body posing, frontal gaze, and emphasis on settings to embellish the narrative. Instead, James occupies the frame nearly in its entirety - he sits slightly tilted, smoking, looking pensively ahead with an air of dignity shrouding him. The soot-covered face and the strength of the silhouette carve him as a breathing caryatid, majestic and powerful and certainly not a subject for anyone's pity.

    "I could have followed a livelier and perhaps more colourful Welsh miner but I’m happy I decided to portray Ben James. When I said farewell to him I realised that no future story on any Welsh miner will look as this one does." Robert Frank

  • Artist Biography

    Robert Frank

    Swiss • 1924

    As one of the leading visionaries of mid-century American photography, Robert Frank has created an indelible body of work, rich in insight and poignant in foresight. In his famed series The Americans, Frank travelled the United States, capturing the parade of characters, hierarchies and imbalances that conveyed his view of the great American social landscape.

    Frank broke the mold of what was considered successful documentary photography with his "snapshot aesthetic." It is Frank's portrayal of the United States through grit and grain that once brought his work to the apex of criticism, but has now come to define the art of documentary photography.

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128

Ben James, Welsh Miner

1953
Gelatin silver print.
33 x 21.4 cm (12 7/8 x 8 3/8 in.)
Signed in ink on the verso.

Estimate
£12,000 - 18,000 

Contact Specialist
Lou Proud
Head of Photographs
London
+ 44 207 318 4018

Photographs

London 18 November 2014